Simple, classic and refined, the humble Chukka boot is a hugely popular style thanks to its high levels of comfort and versatile design. In this post we’ll be taking a step back in time to explore the origin of this wardrobe staple as well as giving a few top tips on how best to style your Chukka boots today.
Identifying a Chukka
While the style has evolved and taken on many forms over the years, classic Chukka boots are typically ankle height and made from soft calfskin or suede. Traditionally, the style is unlined with rounded toes and features open lacing with two or three pairs of eyelets. While classic Chukka boots tend to have leather soles, Desert boots are a very popular variation of the Chukka that feature distinctive crepe rubber soles.
The History of Chukka Boots
Chukka boots are a relatively modern style when compared to styles like Oxfords or Monk shoes. The style can trace its origin back to the sport of Polo where a Chukker or Chukka is a seven and a half minute playing period. Chukka boots themselves also resemble the Jodhpur style worn by Polo players and they became very popular among off-duty players thanks to their high levels of comfort.
The popularity of Chukka boots as an everyday men’s style began in the late 1940s, largely thanks to the introduction of the Clark’s Desert Boot at the 1949 Chicago Shoe Fair. The Clark’s Desert boot was inspired by the boots worn by British Army soldiers during the Western Desert Campaign of the second world war. These boots were manufactured for British Army officers in Cario’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar and featured distinctive crepe rubber soles. The style itself took its inspiration from a popular South African boot style known as Veldskoen. The boots have Nathan Clark to thank for their jump from military service to wardrobe staple. While serving as an infantryman during the war, Clark noticed Eighth Army officers wearing the boots and liking the design, he took it back to his family’s company to begin production.
The boots quickly took off as a fashion must-have throughout the 1950s and 60s gaining popularity in Mod subculture and among actors and celebrities such as Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen. Today, Chukka boots remain a highly popular style among men thanks to their comfort and position as a halfway point between trainers and dress shoes.
How to Style your Chukkas
One reason for Chukka boots popularity is their versatility and ability to quickly be paired with many different outfits. Considering this, we’ve put together a few top tips to keep in mind when styling your Chukka boots.
Just like any other style of footwear, it is important to consider the ‘version’ of the style that you own when dressing. For example, a sleek, leather soled pair of Chukka boots can be worn with a much more formal outfit than a chunkier crepe-soled pair.
If you want to incorporate a pair of Chukka boots into your everyday casual wardrobe we’d recommend choosing a suede pair with rubber soles or classic Desert variation. These boots can be worn with chinos, casual trousers or jeans and look fantastic with a turned up leg.
To fully maximise your style points when wearing Chukka’s, opt for a slim fitting pair of trousers and add a coloured sock for a touch of individuality.
Whether we’ve inspired you to get your first pair of Chukkas or simply to try something different from your current pair, check out our fantastic range today!
Copy by Tom Mankin.